Tuesday, June 28, 2005

arrived, hot, hungry

I made it. I’m sitting in my hotel room in Sofia feeling very hot, a little thirsty and wondering where I’m going to get some food from.
The flight went smoothly. I spent most of it gazing out of the window and trying to work out where we were. We were supposed to fly over Paris and Belgrade and I might have spotted them, but then I might have been wrong. Lots of mountains though, which I suppose was Switzerland, or somewhere. As we got nearer, I noticed the pattern of the fields here, like patchwork, small rectangular blocks of brown, green, yellow. They looked like brush strokes in oil paint. Sofia is surrounded by green, with huge mountains in the distance. I love the moment when you get off a plane and stand on the ground you’ve just been flying above. For a while, the sky seems enormous, and the land very flat, especially when ringed with mountains, as here.
One of the conference organisers met me at the airport, along with another guy from Hungary and we got a taxi to the hotel. I think I might be the only person at the meeting staying here. It’s a very small meeting and there was a choice of two hotels and I went for the cheaper one. It’s small, clean and neat with black wooden furniture, buttercream walls and a print of wintry cottage roves on the wall. There’s a small bathroom with a shower, but no shower curtain which I think might feel rather odd. I’m sitting at a desk by the window looking out another low building and trees.
I have nothing to do now until tomorrow morning when the meeting begins, so I think I’ll go out for an explore soon. I need to find some food. The meal on the flight over was interesting - bread roll, cold meat (couldn’t work out if it was chicken or fish), strange cheese and ham roulade, potato croquettes, cucumber, Milky Way-like chocolate bar – but not very substantial. The heat, relief at getting here, nervousness at being alone in a strange city where I don’t speak the language and the fact that I got up early are combining to make me think I’ll go to bed fairly early. We’ve got a full day tomorrow, meetings all day, then a tour of Sofia and a meal in a Bulgarian restaurant. Thursday, the meeting finishes around lunchtime and hopefully other people will be around until Friday so I’ll have people to talk to and find food with. I wish I’d printed out some of the maps I found on the internet. I can remember bits of them so once I’ve worked out which way’s North, I might be able to work out a useful direction in which to walk. I hope the shops don’t all close at 5pm, or I might be very hungry until breakfast tomorrow.

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